Birth-Death year display options?

In several different views, RM8 displays individuals’ birth and death years, which is good. However, for many individuals in my tree, I don’t have birth or death dates. For example, for anybody born in England in the early 19th century or before, birth and death dates are were rarely recorded–what was recorded were baptism and burial dates.

So my question is, is there a way in RM8 to have it use baptism dates and burial dates for the birth–death years display, if there are not birth dates and death dates in the person’s data? If not, why not?

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I’m pretty sure RootsMagic forgoes the Baptism event (because it can occur at any stage in a person’s life) and instead falls back to the Christen event. Regarding the Burial event, if you have that info… what will work is to enter a Death event with that Burial date preceded by the date modifier BEF (eg. BEF 23 Oct 2021) . With those adjustments RM7 and RM8 should fall back to using the Christen date in the case of no Birth date.

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Well, there are still more possible variations in baptisms being christenings and vice versa. So essentially, I would have to go through my database and change all the baptism events to christenings.

Re: the work-around you give for burials vs death events, yeah, I’ve had to do that in previous genealogy software I’ve tried. It’s not a solution I’m wild about, because it obliges the user to put in an extra event where the burial alone should be sufficient. If you put in the death event in that manner, then later when you generating reports & etc, the death and burial events become clunky and repetitive, since the info/source for the death even IS the burial event.

It’s possible that nobody but me is bothered about this, and it’s not the end of the world. I’ve resigned myself that there probably isn’t ever going to be genealogy software out there that does everything the way I would like it to. C’est la vie.

I’m on travel away from my computer at home, but as I think about it more… RootsMagic might very well only need the Burial fact. Check that out.

In response to the need for a Birth event to populate the Birth Year and trigger the leading Name in narrative reports, I developed this procedure for RM7: Births – Add from Christening or Baptism. It could be adapted to RM8 and something similar could be done to add a Death event from Cremation or Burial.


Others, including me, are bothered by it, and have brought this up many times. I re-submitted it as a suggested feature during the RM8 community preview. My point being, as you have stated, those English registers list BAPTISM and BURIAL events. NOT Christening and Death.

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If I only have a baptism date I use the “bef” prefix for the birth date. Similarly for the death date if I only have the Burial date.


Regardless of whether RM forgoes the Baptism event in preference to the Christen event, I am not going to get into a theological argument here - but from a genealogical perspective I prefer to go with what it says on the document I am using as a source and most Church of England registers look something like my screenshot. I don’t see the word Christen.


I do the same, and update later if I find more information.
Like Terry, I don’t want to get involved in a theological argument but, in my experience, Anglican and Catholic baptisms are normally infant baptisms, and the parish register sometimes (often?) indicate when a baptism is an adult baptism, which is helpful. Sometimes in such cases they even give an approximate age for the person being baptised


I live in eastern Canada, and it is common practice here in the winter months (use your own definition of ‘winter’) in the event of death, to store the remains until the ground becomes workable so that interment can take place. Hence, there may be several months between death and burial, so I agree that given the burial date, it makes sense to indicate an unknown date of death as ‘Bef burial date’.


Yeah, I agree that doing so makes sense; the thing is, for a simple [birth year]-[death year] display feature, it’s going to end up looking the same as if the software had an settings option to consider the burial year the death year for that purpose. Ditto for the baptism vs. birth date question.

That’s nifty, but I’m a little daunted by the learning curve I’d have to climb to be able to add .sql scripts to RM8. I’m generally tech-savvy, but I’m not a coder.

Have a look at this page to decide if you have the skills to work on your database outside the RM UI box: Learn – SQLite Tools for RootsMagic

I do the same. But I have only been adding a birth/death using “bef” for pre-birth/death registration in order to get a date showing on the RM7 Person Index.

I did hope that RM8 would fix this issue by using the bap/bur dates if birth/death dates not present. Not yet. Time-wasting workaround still needed.

I think that the further you go back in time, the longer the period between birth and baptism. This is mostly due to the fact that people living outside communities may not have the opportunity to get to a place of worship, or even see a member of the clergy.

I think this really only applies in certain countries. More than 99% of the people in my database dating back to the 1580s had plenty of opportunity to get to a place of worship. (UK)


Not all Catholic baptisms took place in church. In the early 19th century, in rural Ireland, it appears (from parish register evidence) that in many (all?) large parishes, the clergy went on circuits around the parish to do baptisms. I don’t know if this was the practice in other countries

In reading some parish registers from Québec from the 1600’s, there are instances of children being baptized in their homes. Quite often these are “provisional” baptisms where the child may not be expected to live. Sometimes, these are not performed by a priest. You will often find recorded baptisms in a church that make mention of a prior provisional baptism. Mostly, these parish registers are in 17th century French with some earlier entries in Latin.

Québec, at this time was sparsely populated and a lot of remote (for then, via horse) farms.

These home baptisms are usually referred to as “Private” baptisms in the Church of England. If the child did survive then there was another service (Not a baptism) later where the child was “accepted into the Church”. The date of this service is often appended to the entry in the Register for the private baptism.

I grew up in a vicarage where the use of the “Christening” was common. I am a committed Christian but always use the “Baptism”. Christening is often referred to as signifying one’s entry into the Church which is a very narrow limited explanation. When Jesus used the word it meant much more than becoming the member of the club. And if He says the word is “Baptism” or “Baptise” that is the word to use.

To best of my knowledge the use of the word “Christened” is restricted to the Angland, Roman and possible Orthodox denominations and to “force” genealogists to use that category disrespects Baptiss, Pentecostal and others, including many many non-aligned small churches.

However it is good to that v8 has “LDS baptism” as well as “Baptism”. And the majority of Christian churches do not have infant baptism, so the value of using Baptised or Christened in lieu of Birth is questionable.